Nonfiction > Francis Bacon > Of the Wisdom of the Ancients

Francis Bacon (1561–1626).  Of the Wisdom of the Ancients.  1857.
XVI. Juno’s Suitor
Or Dishonour
THE POETS tell us that Jupiter in pursuit of his loves assumed many different shapes,—a bull, an eagle, a swan, a shower of gold: but that when he courted Juno, he turned himself into the ignoblest shape that could be, a very object of contempt and ridicule; that of a wretched cuckoo, drenched with rain and tempest, amazed, trembling, and half dead.  1
  It is a wise fable, derived from the depths of moral science. The meaning is that men are not to flatter themselves that an exhibition of their virtue and worth will win them estimation and favour with everybody. For that depends upon the nature and character of those to whom they apply themselves. If these be persons of no gifts or ornaments of their own, but only a proud and malignant disposition (the character represented by Juno), then they should know that they must put off everything about them that has the least show of honour or dignity, and that it is mere folly in them to proceed any other way; nay that it is not enough to descend to the baseness of flattery, unless they put on the outward show and character of abjectness and degeneracy.  2
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